Why Japan never had as many immigrants as Western countries - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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Japan is included in the G7 countries - considered the most economically prosperous developed nations in the world, at least in 1985.
But some might be wondering the reasons why the country of Japan never adopted a policy of bringing in huge numbers of immigrants, in contrast to most all the other big wealthy countries.

There are quite a few reasons why Japan never saw immigration as beneficial, in contrast to all the wealthy countries in the West, in recent times.
First, we have to remember, beginning in the 60s, Japan was more poor. They had just been devastated by World War 2 and were rapidly rebuilding up their industry, and the population had more recent memory of poverty.
A large percentage of the population and economic opportunity concentrated into the small area of Tokyo. In the 80s, Tokyo came to have an extremely high population density and housing prices soared extremely high. Everyone wanted to live in Tokyo but the people knew that area was overcrowded and that adding immigration would make the problem even worse. Remember, at this same time in the United States, New York City was experiencing a little bit of urban decay; the city's population actually decreased a little between 1970 and 1980.
And then Japan had a severe economic downturn in 1990 after their real estate market bubble popped, which was only exacerbated over the next 15 years from increasing export competition from China. Underemployment became a big issue in Japan during this time and the phenomena of homelessness began to appear in Tokyo for the first time in 40 years. So this was not the time to bring in immigrants.

And then also the worldwide recession hit Japan again in 2007, a carryover effect of the U.S. Housing Bubble Crisis, since Japanese banks had put some of their money in American mortgages. Though Japan was not hit by this anywhere near as hard as the U.S. was. But this came on the heels shortly after Japan's "Lost Decade".

However, as of recent times, Japan is slowly beginning to take in a little bit more immigration. Mainly this is due to Japan's demographic population decline. Especially when it comes to a need for caretakers for the old in nursing homes. The majority of these foreign workers are brought in under a temporary guest worker program with a time duration of 5 years.  
Most of these immigrants come from other East Asian countries; China, Vietnam, Korea, and the Philippines.

In 1990 and 1991 there were a lot of females from Thailand coming to Japan to work in the sex trade or marry Japanese men for citizenship.
Last edited by Puffer Fish on 11 Jun 2024 15:45, edited 1 time in total.
Fasces wrote:Japan has low rates of immigration because Japan wants it that way.

I was explaining the economic reasons and recent history that probably helped shaped the Japanese view which led to their policy.

Human society does have very little of its own real agency. Everything is about cause and effect, and emotion, frequently knee-jerk reactions to the present situation.
Whatever your definition of ‘cause’, human action is not caused. Marx’s aphorism is incontrovertible:
“Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.” (Marx, 18th Brumaire, 1852)
People “making their own history” means people, in whatever social position they occupy, taking action for reasons which are generally well-founded given the circumstances they find themselves in. The conditions in which you find yourself may mean that there is only one rational thing to do, but you still have to choose to do that, you don’t have to. A defence of free will must also respond to the fact that one’s needs and desires and the concepts by means of which one grasps them are among that which is given and transmitted from the past, but this still does not mean that human action is caused. It is merely subject to constraints.

The difference between logical necessity and causal necessity

The sociologist Anthony Giddens claimed that the predictability manifested in social life is largely ‘made to happen’ by strategically placed social actors, not in spite of them or ‘behind their backs’. Far from people being driven to do what they do by remote or invisible ‘structural forces’, Giddens showed that “all explanations will involve at least implicit references both to the purposive, reasoning behavior of agents and to its intersection with constraining and enabling features of the social and material contexts” (1984, p. 179). Giddens’ research shows that individuals are generally well aware of the possible consequences of their actions, and are experts in the often lamentable situations in which they find themselves. Sociologists use Game Theory to study the various traps which confront people when are deemed to act as isolated individuals and they do gain certain insights into social problems. However, human society is not an aggregate of isolated atoms, and all manner of collective action from neighborhood solidarity to government action create and change the arrangements within which such ‘rational actors’ act. The situations in which the individuals make their decisions are the products of policy of strategic institutions. The rationality at work in the creation of institutions and customs is not a ‘univocal’ reason, but reflects a diversity of social interests and identities.

Any given social arrangement has an inherent ‘logic’ which constrain the actions of all the particular actors; no-one ‘forces’ any actor to act in a certain way (indeed they would not be actors at all if they were forced), but the social arrangements constrain them in what can be called ‘logical necessity’: “You don’t have to do X, but look at your options. You’d be well advised to do X.” But it does not stop there; people endeavor to change arrangements which do not suit them. Responses to institutional arrangements are a kind of practical critique of the concept on which the institution was based. Institutional arrangements will be changed in response to such critique and the changes decided upon by rational deliberations, however imperfect, will respond to the practical critique explicitly in the form of thinking and argument. Institutional change in modern societies is not like crowd behavior, but takes place according to what is found to be necessary in the circumstances. Institutions try to do what they have to do according to their concept, rather than simply striving to maintain a status quo.
America was founded as a nation of immigrants, while EU nations only started accepting migrants in the post-war era. The EU entered the era of mass migration by welcoming millions of Eastern European migrants with the recent expansion of the EU. However, economic activity in 2023 is estimated to have expanded by only 0.5% in the euro area. Many in Australia now think the country's immigration policy to accept millions of Lebanese Muslim refugees fleeing the Lebanese Civil War was a complete disaster.

In East Asia, there is no rush to import migrants from the Third World. Birthrates in East Asia were pretty high until the 1980s and they did not need a huge influx of foreign workers to fill up job vacancies. South Korea only raised the maximum number of visas available to migrant workers from abroad to 110,000 in 2023. The American model does not work for every country. A study demonstrated that population decline contributes to growing GDP and increasing per capita GDP.

Businesspeople and politicians seem to be afraid that population reduction will be accompanied by economic recession. In this paper we examine the experience of some countries of various sizes in which population has been declining and observe how GDP, GDP per capita, unemployment rate, and labour force participation rate are evolving during the period that population is declining. Using the pooled mean group (PMG) estimation method, we find that population decline can go hand in hand with growing GDP and increasing per capita GDP, and at the same time the labour participation rate may increase and unemployment may fall.


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